Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.  -John 20:1-18

Jan Edmiston invited a great reflection this past week:

“Sometimes we might be the rock blocking the tomb.  Or we could be the one to roll it out of the way to help resurrection happen.”  

I love this idea and this question.

How do you want to relate to the rock over the opening to the tomb?

As we engage change as a Presbytery and consider the work that is before us around transition and transformation, the image of the rock and the tomb on Easter morning is a powerful image for us to engage in prayer and reflection.

Some questions to invite in prayer and reflection as we engage holy decision-making as a Presbytery:

  • Where are the tomb(s) in our personal and shared life and ministry?  
  • What are the rocks like in front on these tombs?  Are they easily moved? Are they big, small or medium-sized?  Is something propping them up that needs to be addressed first?  Will rocks come raining down on us when we move the primary one?
  • What preparations for moving the rock(s) do we need to make?
  • Can I move the rock on my own or do I need help?
  • Does this tomb need to remain sealed or should it be opened up?
  • When was the rock put there?
  • What’s in the tomb?  What happens when it comes out?
  • Who or what sealed up the tomb in the first place and when was that and why?
  • Do we know what we will do with the contents of the tomb when they come out?  Will we want to control them or let them have a life of their own?
  • What will happen to us individually and corporately from an emotional perspective when we open a tomb?  Will we cry, will we rejoice, will we be fearful?
  • Where is Jesus in all of this?

Not all tombs need to be opened, and not all tombs are filled with resurrection-possibility.  All tombs are not created alike!  But the promise of Easter is that as we engage Resurrection, Jesus will be with us and God will not abandon us.  Jesus went ahead of the disciples after the Resurrection to show them the way, even as they fearfully took their first few steps out into the New Life they had after the terror of Good Friday.  So it is for us as we take our baby steps along the way of changing up how we engage ministry together as a Presbytery.  

We will have some times that are like Maundy Thursday when we eat together and celebrate a ministry that we must say goodbye to.  We will have some times that are like Palm Sunday when we celebrate and the wind is at our back and the crowds are on our side.  We will have some times that take us into the depths of hopelessness like Good Friday. And we will have some times that are pregnant with the possibilities of Easter morning.  

In all these things there will be rocks guarding some tombs.  And we’ll have to figure out how to engage them with prayer and with purpose.  Change is constant and will never stop.  But Christ’s Resurrection power is forever.  

What are you going to do about those rocks in front of those tombs?

The stone has been removed!
The tomb is empty!
A new ministry is to begin!
Christ is Risen, he is Risen indeed!
Alleluia!  Amen!

About Rev. Shannan Vance-Ocampo

Shannan grew up between the Jersey Shore and Philadelphia and have also lived at various points in Ohio, Illinois, New Jersey and upstate New York. Internationally, I have lived in Scotland, Greece and Colombia. My family is transnational, my husband is an immigrant and we divide our time between the United States and Colombia. You can learn more about Shannan at: https://srvoconsulting.com

The purpose of the Albany Presbytery Blog is to share information, tell stories, and promote the mission and ministry of the presbytery, synod and beyond. While the breadth of this medium is intentionally broad, it is not a platform for opinion pieces related to business coming before the presbytery unless designed as part of an initiative to provide a diversity of viewpoints at the direction of the presbytery. Exceptions to this policy may be brought to the presbytery officers who will determine appropriateness of submissions.